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Guildford Bason (or Basin) is an English former cricket ground on Merrow Down, on the outskirts of Guildford, Surrey. Guildford is the location for the earliest definite reference to cricket in English history. A 1597 court case proves that a certain plot of land was used by boys who were playing the game in c.1550.
Cricket on Merrow Down
In September 1741, Merrow Down is the venue for a famous match between, to quote the Duke of Richmond: "poor little Slyndon against almost your whole county of Surrey". Slindon, featuring Richard Newland, won "almost in one innings".
Guildford Bason references
The first actual reference to Guildford Bason is the game played 31 July – 1 August 1769 between Caterham and Hambledon. Hambledon won by 4 wickets thanks to "the batting of Messrs Small and Bayton".
Sussex lawyer John Baker, a regular spectator at Georgian matches, described some of them in his diary. One is the All-England v Hampshire game in July 1772 which Baker attended with his parson friend, John Woodward. He writes that Hambledon was already batting when they arrived. It was a cheerful scene and "the Basin on Merrow Down" was ringed by a big crowd of spectators, most of them standing. Indeed, contemporary paintings of matches show no sign of seating accommodation for the ordinary folk. The local publicans were doing good business in their booths, some of them rented by the local nobility and thus the equivalent of the present-day sponsors’ tents or boxes. As in our own times, the occupants were often more interested in the food and drink than in the cricket. Guildford had fixed up a small grandstand "with benches above one another over his booth below", but it was already full. Baker then talks about "finding a small booth where we had a good cold dinner and good cider and ale". He says this was better and cheaper than the one they had on the following day in the White Hart booth.
The last known use of Guildford Bason for an important match is the All-England v Hampshire match in August 1777. This produced a tense finish with Hampshire scoring 162-9 in the last innings to win by 1 wicket. Tom Taylor scored 62 and it required several runs by the last pair (Tom Sueter and Richard Nyren) to secure the win with Lumpy bowling to them.
- Waghorn, p. 1.
- McCann, pp. 20–21.
- Waghorn, p. 55.
- Buckley, p. 51.
- Underdown, p. 111.
- Haygarth, p. 34.
- Buckley, G. B. (1935). Fresh Light on 18th Century Cricket. Cotterell.
- Haygarth, Arthur (1862). Scores & Biographies, Volume 1 (1744–1826). Lillywhite. ISBN 1-900592-23-1.
- McCann, Tim (2004). Sussex Cricket in the Eighteenth Century. Sussex Record Society.
- Underdown, David (2000). Start of Play. Allen Lane. ISBN 0-7139-9330-8.
- Waghorn, H. T. (1899). Cricket Scores, Notes, etc. (1730–1773). Blackwood.